Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

Lifestyles

October 30, 2009

A Yankee in King Football’s court

<h3>New Yorker finds 'Friday Night Lights' are real in Palo Pinto County</h3>

STRAWN – Growing up in New York, Emily Berl always heard about how high school football was revered in Texas almost to the point of almost being a religion, and how entire communities rally around a team every Friday night as if it were a gift from Heaven.

If it’s football passion you want, she was told time and time again, then Texas is the place you have to be.

The Friday Night Lights beckoned brightly for the Brooklyn photojournalist. So much so that the 24-year-old former newspaper employee decided to put her boyfriend, her dog and her life at home on hold in order to find out if football was indeed king in Texas.

“I had always heard about how football was a culture here,” said Berl, who left Brooklyn on Aug. 24 in search of Texas lore. “I was interested in seeing if what I had heard about high school football in Texas was true, so I decided I wanted to come here and work on a project about how it (the game) is here.”

After driving more than 1,200 miles, the road brought Berl to a place she didn’t even know existed a few months earlier – tiny Strawn, Texas, population 700. Friendly people with a few old rednecks and cedar hackers mixed in and where six-man football is played.

“Originally, I was going to come down and do the project on an 11-man team near Dallas, but when I came to Strawn I kind of decided I didn’t need to go anywhere else to find the football culture,” said Berl. “I can’t believe how big it is here.”

Berl’s road to Texas football actually began a few months prior to her arrival in western Palo Pinto County. After deciding Texas was the place to be, she set about to find a hotbed for football.

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